The Brunel Partners Academic Centre for Health Sciences – a pioneering new partnership between Brunel University London, Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Central and North West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust – was officially launched at Brunel’s Uxbridge campus on 17 November.
Nationally, the NHS is struggling to cope with increasing patient demands and expectations, and the growing cost of healthcare delivery. In the London Borough of Hillingdon, the situation is no different, with pressure on hospital waiting lists, a lack of integrated care, and a major need to improve health and wellbeing in the community.
The new Centre, funded by the three partners, aims to revolutionise the way health and social care is delivered to meet the changing needs of society.
“We are moving away from what the NHS was set up for, which was to deliver in a supply model, to one where customers want to see it designed around them, exercising their own choice,” explained Professor Dame Jessica Corner, the University of Nottingham’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, in her keynote speech.
The Centre will bring about this transformation in Hillingdon by providing the perfect setting for research and developing new methods of healthcare delivery across allied health, nursing, social care and medicine.
Five areas of focus
Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel, spoke of how the Centre’s work chimes with the university’s mission: “We’re here to bring benefit to society, and we do that through education and research, and transferring that knowledge into real benefit.
“I’m incredibly excited about this Centre, and I know my colleagues from Hillingdon and CNWL feel just as I do.
“It’s a partnership not just between the three founding partners, but a partnership which will extend right through Hillingdon to all the healthcare providers – and indeed to the providers of social care.”
Five distinct areas of focus have been identified to drive the activity of the Centre under the leadership of newly appointed Director Belinda Norris:
- research and innovation
- educating the workforce
- outcomes-based care
- quality improvement
- digital health.
Acting as a gateway to the wider university, the Centre will also enable translational research across health, social sciences, engineering and other faculties.
Its ambitions and potential were brought to life by Professor Paul Hellewell, Brunel’s Dean of College of Health and Life Sciences, and through a showcase of healthcare design innovation projects presented by Dr Gabriella Spinelli, Reader in Design Innovation at Brunel.
Central and North West London’s Chief Executive, Claire Murdoch, highlighted that the expectations of the NHS’s workforce will change just as much as those of patients – which needs to be reflected in how the Centre trains future generations of health and social care professionals.
“We have to think really differently if we want to build a health workforce of the future that stays, endures and grows and matches the needs of the changing population,” she said. “So we, the employers, need to be agile and motivated – and I think this partnership here with Brunel and with the Hillingdon Trust gives us the opportunity to be much more agile.”
The event concluded with a panel discussion chaired by Professor Dot Griffiths, Chair of the CNWL NHS Foundation Trust, which took questions from the 130-strong audience of people from the partners, the community and further afield.
“The timing around starting this centre couldn’t be better,” enthused Hillingdon Hospital’s Chief Executive, Shane DeGaris.
“It’s pretty universally accepted that addressing the NHS’s challenges will require us very differently from the way we do now, and to embrace new innovations. And far greater collaboration is going to be needed across various partners. It is no longer acceptable to work in siloes in our systems.
“So this is why my board and my Trust are delighted to be involved in this partnership, and we believe this will really provide a fantastic platform to improve the healthcare and experience of the patients we serve in Hillingdon and beyond.”
Image, left to right: Professor Michael Spyer, Chair of Council, Brunel University London; Dr Gabriella Spinelli, Reader in Design Innovation, Brunel University London; Shane DeGaris, Chief Executive, The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor and President, Brunel University London; Professor Dot Griffiths, Chair, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust; Claire Murdoch, Chief Executive, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust; Belinda Norris, Director, Brunel Partners Academic Centre for Health Sciences; Professor Paul Hellewell, Dean of College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London.
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